A question for music producers; will a new RMBP be that much better/ worth waiting?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Sethaniel, Jun 21, 2016.

  1. Sethaniel macrumors newbie

    May 20, 2016
    I've had ambitions to start recording and editing music for quite some time, and I've unfortunately allowed a considerable amount of time to pass by waiting for a new MacBook pro. However, with all the improvements people are looking forward to, I've been wondering how much of an improvement skylake and the other rumored advancements will actually apply to a benefit a music producer?

    I'm in college, I need something to last me many years (like my 8 year old current laptop), but I don't necessarily need it asap for school, but I want to start working with music recording as soon as I can. And I would also like my computer to withstand my music production growth. Thank you for any advice or input you have to offer.
  2. SoundsEclectic macrumors newbie

    May 19, 2016
    Probably not and most likely more of a hassle if anything since it's rumored that there will only be USB Type C ports which means adapters galore if you are hooking up midi devices.

    Granted I only did a limited run of Ableton and it was on a 2010 core i7 laptop, analyzing, and loading files and tracks isn't too CPU intensive.

    Unless you are making money off your productions, I wouldn't pay the premium for a new laptop just for production.
  3. Woochoo macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2014
    Producer here, if you wanna really start producing build a tower and do it from now. It's the decision I've taken, comming from a 5 year Mac usage on production, and I couldn't be happier (I still keep my Mac for small tweaks).
    Pros: It will cost you half of a Macbook Pro, have much more performance for moving multitracks (useful at mixing stage) with various vst and vsti's, and you will keep being able to work on your projects from your tower to your Mac, if you are using a crossplatform DAW.

    If you plan to use Logic or also do live sets with your computer, choose Mac, otherwise get a PC which has more performance, same DAWs (except Logic) and 98% of the same plugins, since almost any music-related software is cross-platform.

    EDIT: about your question, DAWs only use CPU even for rendering/bouncing tracks, you won't notice any improvement from the actual MBP to Skylake MBP (5-10% as much on CPU). Faster iGPU or memory isn't noticeable on DAWs.
  4. moltar macrumors newbie

    Nov 19, 2008
    If you're planning to do live sets with a lot of plugins at once you will need a fast cpu. I have this problem now, but I only have a dual-core processor, I think if I went over to any quad-core processor I would be fine. 5-10% more cpu probably won't make that much of a difference, but if you want a quad-core MBP to have with you on gigs, you have to get the 15" which weighs quite a bit more than the 13", so I'm waiting for the skylake ones hoping that they will weigh a bit less, but if Apple decides to get rid of the magsafe and the usb-ports then I might consider just buying an old one for cheaper.
  5. Sethaniel thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 20, 2016
    Thank you for the responses.

    Yeah, I realize the PC route would certainly be the cheaper of my two options, but I actually would prefer to use logic as well as having a laptop to use for live sets. I battled with the idea of whether I really should go Mac, but I'm looking for a more streamlined experience with my next computer to stay focused on just a few things, and would prefer mac (I realize it might sound like silly reasoning). In considering that I would like to go Mac and need that portability factor so it will be a mbp, might the wait be worth the longevity of a newly developed system?

    From what you're saying it seems like I should wait. I want to do live gigs (even if I'm terrified of the idea at the moment) and look forward to using my laptop while performing. Yeah he 5 to 10 CPU difference isn't that much, but if it's just a couple months away it might be worth just sticking it out. I'm not afraid of adapters so even if they go USB C I would probably jump on board, but would the magsafe really be a dealbreaker?
  6. moltar macrumors newbie

    Nov 19, 2008
    Yes of course if you can wait you should wait. I think the feeling of not having waited if it actually comes out in a few months will be pretty bad if it's an inferior machine. But then again I don't think you should wait with producing. Even though your current machine is 8 years old, you can still produce on it. I started producing on the computer 15 years ago. Imagine how slow the computers where then! Maybe you can get your hands on an old version of a DAW for example. Don't let the hardware dictate your creativity/productiveness. But also, the problem with waiting is that we don't know for sure if it's gonna come out soon or not. I really thought they would announce it at the keynote in March, and then I thought now in June, but it seems they're in no rush to release it.

    About the magsafe, it's saved me loads of times. Obviously when on a gig you'll have all the usb-ports plugged in anyway, so the risk of it falling is the same, but at home, the magsafe is a lifesaver. But yeah, I think the idea of having an inferior machine outweighs these things, although I don't really like the thought of accepting whatever Apple throws at me. Unfortunately there's not much choice but to suck it because I also use Logic and Mainstage exclusively for music production/performance. They've got me over a barrel.
  7. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    They haven't got you over a barrel you could swap to any number of other software packages, you may not want to, but you certainly have the option.
  8. moltar macrumors newbie

    Nov 19, 2008
    Of course, I've even tried going over to Ableton, but I've been using the Logic plugins for years and I just feel a lot more comfortable with them and have my entire back catalogue using them, so I'd rather pay a bit more for an os x laptop than switching. If Apple truely thinks the iPad is the future of personal computing and they stop updating the MBP, I hope they release Logic to Windows one day.
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    My opinion only, but...
    ... for recording and editing music, I'd much prefer an iMac with a 27" display.

    With audio apps, you want as LARGE a display as possible, to see as much of your timeline as possible. The wider the better.

    I guess it can be done with a laptop with an external display plugged in.

    Seems to me that recording/editing with a laptop will be.... "cramped" ....?
  10. moltar macrumors newbie

    Nov 19, 2008
    You're right, but then the option of playing live pretty much goes out of the window. You could also just change the resolution on the MPB to make some space.
  11. Sethaniel thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 20, 2016
    My audio interface actually came with a lite version of Ableton, and I've been trying to make it work for me in the meantime.

    Yeah I'm sure you're right, ideally i could have a desktop to work from. But, I'm trying to have a computer that can satisfy both my desire to work with music and the things I'll have to do in college, and therefore a laptop is the best thing to handle both of these. Luckily I do have an external monitor I can hook up my laptop to. Hopefully one day I can have both a mbp and iMac!
  12. Woochoo macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2014
    @Sethaniel Yes, definitely is worth the wait if you want a computer that lasts many years. If you go for the actual ones you'll be buying already 3 years old technology, and it might still work well in some years but it will be greatly devaluated if you want to sell it and go for a new one.

    My warning would be: beware with your interface, make sure it works well with El Capitan (It broke almost all interfaces compatiblity, and some of them even with actualized drivers won't work properly, like mine, that's why I switched to Windows). Another risk factor is MacOS Sierra: your new computer will come for sure with it if it's released in September-October, and it will be a really new OS. And like every new OS, especially lastest Mac operating systems, it will come with a bunch of problems. So if you plan to use it on lives, I'd not do it the first day, but wait 2-3 months until the dust settles and the manufacturers deliver proper drivers.
  13. Sethaniel thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 20, 2016
    That's some good advice, thank you. I'll go double check my interface compatibility. And I've seen people suggesting even waiting to buy the new computer for a month or two for the hardware bugs to get worked out?
  14. smsmart macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2016
    I actually just bought a Mid-2015 MPB 15" max-specced mostly because I got a good deal on it. Does it have the latest Skylake CPU? No, but I didn't feel the need to have to wait for Skylake to come to the MBP because I feel that the current specs they have on the current MBP 15" will be more than enough for what I do. I've been producing using Ableton Live on a 2011 15" MBP for 5 years now and it does the job pretty well, no real hiccups unless I run a very large number of plugins in a project, particularly CPU intensive synths that try to model their analog hardware counterparts. The newest MBP is performing great and I have no complaints, so if you want to get one now, I say get one now...it'll have no problems running a decent production session. Although only get it if you get a decent deal on one. Don't pay full price that Apple is asking.

    Other reasons why I decided to upgrade to the current MBP generation was the USB situation. Most all audio interfaces and MIDI devices you would want to plug into the laptop are USB (and not necessarily even USB 3), so given how long I'll be holding onto this new MBP, I think it'll be easier to not have to deal with the adapter situation if they do move to USB C. Most likely it will take the audio hardware manufacturers some time before they all move their connectors to USB C, so I foresee a considerable amount of time to pass by before USB C is really the standard. I'd rather just not have to deal with adapters until I have to upgrade my equipment again. Also, years ago I decided to go the Mac route for audio production because I found the driver situation with my MIDI and audio hardware to be much easier to deal with than on my Windows machine. It was more plug and play and less hassle of trying to figure out why the device wasn't being recognized. Also I find that some software and hardware companies in audio, particularly Native Instruments, seem to favor Mac support (faster updates and patching and whatnot).

    Regarding the screen real estate, I would say that it's not a big deal, particularly if you have an external monitor you can work with. I actually have a Hackintosh that I built expressly for production and have a 27" monitor to work with it. However, I'm actually finding myself consolidating my production to my MBP now because it's easier to just keep everything on my laptop where I can work on projects anytime that inspiration strikes. I can use the external monitor with it if I'm home and want the extra screen space.

    Finally, make sure to get a big enough hard drive, especially if you plan to use a lot of sample libraries or store a lot of recorded material (i.e. not just MIDI sequencing). Sample libraries will eat up a ton of drive space, and you want to make sure you can store them and the rest of your data without having to resort to using an external drive.
  15. Redbull916 macrumors member


    Mar 27, 2012
    Brighton, UK
    Brought my PRO a few months ago (i7,16gb & 500gb) for use with Propellerhead Reason.
    The USB C was putting me off as I didn't want adapters all over the place and the ability to plug 2 x 26" monitors directly in swayed me.
    I use the Pros screen to display the Rack and the external monitors for the sequencer and mixing desk.
    No matter what I throw at it the processor gauge never goes over half way so it has plenty of power even when I'm running a few external VST's routed through SoundFlower.
  16. Sethaniel, Jun 23, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2016

    Sethaniel thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 20, 2016
    Man, from what you guys are saying I feel like I don't have a reason to wait. I'm mainly concerned about the capability of the computer, and I need one that has power that will last me for as long as possible. From what you guys are saying, the current one is plenty powerful enough. I am kind of at the point, however, where even if I feel like the current model would suit me I've waited so long and we are (most likely) so close to the release of the new one that I need to wait. It will be about the same price as the current, and I'll get a slightly better processor and hopefully other spec boosts. Personally, I don't see harm in a switch to usb c, because although my current equipment is all usb A I can easily swap my usb A to A cables for usb A to usb C ones, and it's effectively the same situation.

    And about memory, I was thinking 500gb would be all I'd need? 1TB doesn't seem to be worth the hefty price tag, and if I run out of space with the 500 I can transfer projects to an external hard drive.
  17. Woochoo macrumors 6502

    Oct 12, 2014
    @smsmart obviously a Skylake CPU won't make a giant difference respecting the actual MBPs, here we are not debating about performance on audio since there's no discussion. 10-15% CPU improvements will be noticeless on that matter.
    Here we are advising the OP to wait for a more futureproof computer for many matters, including the economic one.
    Said so, regarding one of the advantages that you put as disatvantage, USB C is the new standard and it will become the most used in, lets say, 2-3 years. If the OP wants his machine to last 5 years or more, USB C won't suppose a problem futureproof speaking, and now it will only suppose using an USB B to C cable, since 100% of the actual audio interfaces use USB B port (or Thunderbolt, which will be the same csae). No other adaptors needed, problem solved with 10 bucks cable.
    If you are going to warn him about new Macs problems, I'd do it mentioning OS and drivers incompatibilities, because cables/usb C won't suppose a problem.
    I don't doubt your machine is reliable and very cappable in audio processing therms, even one from 2012 is, but new ones will be definitely better and more futureproof by high margin than yours, costing THE SAME.

    So now it's up to OP to decide if spending 2k on actual ones, or 2k on the new ones. 3-4 months waiting versus 3 years old technology gap? I think it's worth the wait.

    @Sethaniel If you plan to use that machine only for music, 50GB for music is crazy, 100GB for sound libraries sounds reasonable (I have 60 and I won't finish all those sounds), 30GB of Kontakt libraries, 2GB of plugins, and 20-30GB for projects (each project is 200-500MB if including all samples, if not its about 20-100MB) is more than enough. Total: 212GB. Always taking the worst case. So even with 250GB you would have more than enough space. No need for 1TB, go for 500 if you will.
  18. smsmart macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2016
    It really comes down to personal preference as to whether you're willing to wait and are okay with the unknowns of whether a) there is a MBP update this year and b) whether that update will be to your liking. Time is money, so they say; in this case, it's a matter of foregoing the opportunity cost of starting to use a new machine (relatively speaking, age of the hardware aside) now versus waiting for an unknown quantity. Even though my 2011 MBP still works fine, and could have gotten me through to the end of the year, I was facing hard drive capacity constraints given the number of sample libraries I run. I could have opted to upgrade the drive size in the 2011 to 1TB, but given the cost of that plus the other upgrades that the current 15 rMBP offers compared to my 2011 (retina screen, more RAM, newer generation CPU and SSD speeds), plus the discount I got on the rMBP, I decided that it was worth to take the plunge for the current gen model. The combination of waiting until WWDC, not knowing when the refresh is coming and what it will look like, and the discount I got was enough for me to commit. That's how my calculus worked out, but it will be different for everyone. The current waiting game is a difficult position for some folks, and it's hard to recommend either way. It'll come down to what you feel you currently need.

    If I were to make a solid recommendation, I would say that since you're just starting out in music production, maybe give it a go on your current hardware. It will take you at least a couple of months of solid practice before you get comfortable just working with the DAW software of your choice. You're probably not going to need all the computing horsepower until your projects become more complex. The beginning stages of music production learning will yield pretty simplistic stuff. Obviously, if you're set on using Logic, then you'll be in a bind because you would need Mac hardware to use it. But any other DAW should work, and in the end, the general workflow between DAW's is fairly similar (except maybe Reason). Hopefully by the time you become proficient enough in working the DAW and creating semi-decent projects, the new MBP will be out and this will be a no-brainer choice.

    As for hard drive capacity, 512GB will probably be fine, especially starting out, but if you're thinking of using the laptop long-term, you may want to think larger. Yes it's a premium, but it's hard to predict what you're sample library and audio rendering needs are going to be in the future, and high quality audio files and recordings eat up a lot of hard drive capacity. I use a lot of HD space because I have NI's Komplete 9 Ultimate, which has 320GB+ in sample libraries alone. Currently I can't use the libraries on the fly without hooking up an external HD, which is a bit of a hassle to carry around and connect.

    A lot of this is contingent also on whether you stick with music production long-term. Not meaning to sound like the old grandpa, but quality music production takes a lot of work and a long time to master, and some folks just find that it's not their thing.

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